Alok Sharma has apologised for citing incorrect figures on how many people have had coronavirus tests and then claimed it was an “inadvertent mistake”.
The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy appeared on BBC Breakfast on Wednesday morning as host Louise Minchin asked:
Can I ask you about something you said last week on this show? You told me 240,000 people had been tested for Covid-19 on Monday June 22.
In fact, it was the number of tests, not the number of people tested. Would you like to admit you were wrong on that?
Yes, I was wrong and I apologise for that, it was an inadvertent mistake if I can put it like that.
I think that the reason the numbers of people have not come forward is that there is this small percentage of cases where people have been included more than once in the figures. And we are working with the UK statistics authority and looking at that.
When asked if Sharma could clarify what the exact figures are, he responded:
That is something we’re working on with the UK Statistics Authority and I can’t give you any more information – that is work that is ongoing.
The admission of a mistake enraged viewers of the show:
@Haggis_UK that is a big problem, you working on this issue for more than a month now!
Sharma’s admission especially enraged Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan, who called it “blather”.
Airing a section of the clip, he claimed:
[They’re not] challenged on it at the time, we call them out on this show and then they go back on BBC Breakfast, admit they were wrong and apologise… the reality is – actually – the number of people being tested is dramatically smaller than any of the numbers they’ve been giving.
The government have refused to appear on GMB for more than two months.